Around 7% of India’s adult population may have been exposed to the coronavirus till the last fortnight of August, according to the second national sero-survey by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
This is roughly a 10-fold jump in numbers from the first sero-survey conducted by the Council across 70 districts in 21 States that sought to estimate the likely number of infected until early May.
Here are the latest updates:
News reports on sero survey results fake: AAP govt; HC says don’t play games
The AAP government told the Delhi High Court on September 30 that the news reports about preliminary results of the third sero-survey were “fake” and its officials have not disclosed any information to the media about it.
“Don’t show the press as unreliable. Don’t play games with the court like this,” the Court said.
A Bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Subramonium Prasad, not accepting the Delhi government claim that the news was fake, said no denial was issued by administration regarding the media reports. Delhi government additional standing counsel Satyakam said according to the news reports, the preliminary findings of the survey were that prevalence of antibodies in those tested was 33%, whereas in reality it was only 25.1% as per the final report.
The submission was made in response to the court’s query why the sero survey results were first shared with the media before it was even placed before the Bench. The Bench said that on the last date of hearing, September 16, the Delhi government said the survey results were not ready and a day after the preliminary findings were available with the media.
Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain and additional standing counsel Satyakam assured the Court that it was not doing anything of that sort. They also assured the bench that necessary clarification in relation to the media reports would be issued.
The Court was hearing a PIL by advocate Rakesh Malhotra seeking increasing the COVID-19 testing numbers in the national capital and getting speedy results. — PTI
Common cold in past may provide protection from COVID-19: Study
People who have had a bout of seasonal or common cold in the past may get some protection from COVID-19, according to a study which suggests that immunity to the disease is likely to last a long time — maybe even a lifetime.
The study, published in the journal mBio, is the first to show that the COVID-19-causing virus, SARS-CoV-2, induces memory B cells, long-lived immune cells that detect pathogens, create antibodies to destroy them and remember them for the future.
The next time that pathogen tries to enter the body, those memory B cells can hop into action even faster to clear the infection before it starts, according to the researchers from the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) in the U.S.
Because memory B cells can survive for decades, they could protect COVID-19 survivors from subsequent infections for a long time, but further research will have to confirm this.
The study is also the first to report cross-reactivity of memory B cells — meaning B cells that once attacked cold-causing coronaviruses appeared to also recognise SARS-CoV-2.
The researchers believe this could mean that anyone who has been infected by a common coronavirus — which is nearly everyone — may have some degree of pre-existing immunity to COVID-19.
“When we looked at blood samples from people who were recovering from COVID-19, it looked like many of them had a pre-existing pool of memory B cells that could recognise SARS-CoV-2 and rapidly produce antibodies that could attack it, said study lead author Mark Sangster, a research professor at URMC. — PTI
Siddaramaiah alleges under reporting of COVID-19 deaths in Karnataka
Alleging under reporting of COVID-19 deaths, Leader of Opposition in Karnataka Assembly Siddaramaiah accused the BJP government in the State of trying to ‘cover up’ its gross mismanagement and negligence.
In a series of tweets, the former Chief Minister urged the State government for more transparency and accountability, as he pointed out that deaths reported at a hospital in Kolar district last week did not get reflected in COVID-19 bulletin.
“There are serious under reporting issues with respect to Covid-19 deaths. Jalappa hospital has reported 4 deaths between Sep. 19, 12 p.m. and Sep. 20, 12 p.m. But, the bulletin on Sept. 20 has reported 0 deaths in Kolar,” Mr. Siddaramaiah tweeted sharing pictures of the report.
He pointed out that the same hospital has reported one death between 12 p.m. on September 20 and 12 p.m. the next day, but the bulletin on September 21 has reported 0 deaths in Kolar.
“What is the govt trying to hide by under reporting? Is it your failure?” he asked, tagging Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa, Health Minister B. Sriramulu and Medical Education Minister K. Sudhakar in a tweet.
“Under reporting will have serious implications on the preparedness of the stakeholders providing health care and also on the behaviour of the people. Yediyurappa govt is trying to cover up its gross mismanagement and negligence. There has to be more transparency and accountability,” he added. — PTI
Restricted functioning of Delhi HC to continue till October 8
The Delhi High Court Wednesday decided to extend its restricted functioning till October 8 in view of the persisting coronavirus pandemic in the national capital.
The Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court decided to extend the restricted functioning on the same terms as earlier orders, the office of Registrar General Manoj Jain said.
The office order also said that the physical hearing of the cases will continue as per the September 11 roster already uploaded on the court’s website and the remaining benches shall continue to take up the cases through video conferencing.
It stated that the cases already listed before the high court from October 1 to October 8 shall be adjourned en bloc to corresponding dates between December 8 to December 14. – PTI
Supreme Court refuses to postpone civil services preliminary examination scheduled for October 4
The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to defer the civil services preliminary examination scheduled for October 4 but asked the authorities to consider a possible concession for aspirants unable to take their last shot at the exam due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A Bench led by Justice A.M. Khanwilkar asked the authorities to ensure that candidates with admit cards were able to find suitable accommodations near the exam centres/sub-centres.
The court said security and health protocols should be followed strictly. It agreed with the UPSC that any further delay in the conduct of the exam would have a “cascading effect” on future ones.
The examination is scheduled to be held at 72 centres (2569 sub-centres) across the country.
Bengal doctors worried about post Puja COVID-19 situation
The medical fraternity in West Bengal is hoping that the State, post Durga Puja, does not see a repeat of Kerala, where the number of COVID-19 cases shot up by over 120% after Onam celebrations.
“We are worried about the situation that would emerge after Durga Puja and Diwali. We need to prepare ourselves thoroughly in case there is a surge,” said Dr. Koushik Chaki, coordinator of the West Bengal Doctors’ Forum protocol monitoring team, which is helping the government to fight the pandemic.
Dr. Chaki emphasised that it was now entirely up to people to check the spread of the pandemic by taking precautions and avoiding crowds. “COVID-19 has been around for nearly seven months now, by now people should know the dos and don’ts. They have to be compliant and cannot drop guard even for a moment,” he said.
Durga Puja, the most-eagerly awaited festival in West Bengal that involves the participation and movement of large numbers of crowds, lasts several days and is less than a month away. While certain restrictions are in place this year — open and spacious pandals, no cultural programmes, festivities spread across more number of days — crowding will remain a matter of concern.
Union Minister Nitin Gadkari recovers from COVID-19
Union Minister Nitin Gadkari on Wednesday said he has recovered from coronavirus.
The Road Transport, Highways and MSME minister had tested positive on September 16.
Thanking people for their prayers and wishes, the minister in a tweet said: “I am happy to say that I have recovered from coronavirus with the blessings and good wishes of all“.
The former BJP president also thanked his well-wishers. On September 16 after contracting the virus, Gadkari had isolated himself.
Robot attends to patients at Vizag railway hospital
COVID-19 patients, undergoing treatment at the Divisional Railway Hospital in the city, are being served by a robot for nearly two weeks now. The robot is serving the hospital staff and assisting them in providing medicines and food to the patients.
The ‘MeD robot’ fabricated by Diesel Loco Shed (DLS), Visakhapatnam, rules out the need for direct contact between the patient and healthcare givers. It is particularly useful in the pandemic situation, which poses a risk to the care givers in attending to patients.
Now, the DLS, Visakhapatnam, has fabricated a second robot for use at the Railway Central Hospital at Bhubaneswar.
80,472 new infections push India’s COVID-19 caseload past 62 lakh, recoveries rise to 51.8 lakh
India’s COVID-19 caseload raced past 62 lakh on Wednesday with 80,472 infections being reported in a day, while the number of people recuperating from the disease surged to 51,87,825 pushing the recovery rate to 83.33%, according to the Union Health Ministry data.
The total number of coronavirus cases mounted to 62,25,763, while the death toll climbed to 97,497 with 1,179 people succumbing to the disease in a day, the data updated at 8 a.m. showed.
There are 9,40,441 active cases of coronavirus infection in the country which comprises 15.11 per cent of the total caseload. The COVID-19 case fatality rate due to COVID-19 stands at 1.57 per cent, the data showed. – PTI
All-party meet rules out lockdown for now in Kerala
An all-party meeting chaired by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Tuesday decided that a lockdown was not the panacea for retarding the pace of the COVID-19 pandemic in Kerala.
The meeting agreed to review the situation after a fortnight. If the contagion worsened, the conference would weigh the reintroduction of severe curbs on life, travel, production and retail trade.
Mr. Vijayan said the lockdown had hurt workers in the unorganised sector most. Many survived on daily wages and had no protections available to the salaried class. A closing down of the economy would further push them down the path to poverty.
Moreover, experts had expressed scepticism about whether a lockdown would help flatten the disease curve permanently.
Less than 10% of COVID-19 patients in private hospitals
A total of 590 patients, or a little less than 10% of more than 6,000 active cases in the district, are being treated at private hospitals, according to data available with the district administration as on Tuesday morning.
“About 42 private hospitals are treating COVID-19 patients, mostly those who test positive on their premises, and in some cases, people who had requested a shift from a government facility to a private one,” said Dr. Mathews Numpeli, district programme manager, National Health Mission.
The district had not yet reached a point at which patients would have to be referred from brimming government facilities to private ones, particularly since people without severe symptoms were being advised to remain at home, he said. “But if that situation were to arrive, six private hospitals empanelled under the government’s Karunya Arogya Suraksha Padhathi (KASP) health care scheme, have set aside 200 beds altogether,” Dr. Numpeli said. The price of treatment has been capped by the State government at KASP-empanelled hospitals.
Hospital goof-up leaves kin shocked during last rites
In a goof-up at the Kallakurichi Government General Hospital, the body of a 52-year-old man who had tested negative for COVID-19 was handed over to the family of another person admitted to the hospital.
This lapse came to light when the family that received the body was preparing to conduct the last rites. They alerted the authorities and the body was brought back to the hospital and kept in the mortuary.
According to a Health Department official, the body was handed over to the wrong family due to the mix-up of case sheets.
SOP for educational activities in Puducherry schools to be issued tomorrow
A detailed Standard Operating Procedure will be issued on October 1 ahead of the phased resumption of educational activities in schools for higher classes from October 5, District Collector T. Arun said on Tuesday.
Addressing a press conference, Mr. Arun said a COVID control room would also be established at the Education Department from Thursday to take queries from students/parents, including those related to transportation.
Under the Central government guidelines, the initial phase of reopening would involve sessions for clarifying doubts pertaining to classes 10 to 12. This would be followed by a similar session for students from classes 9-11 from October 12.
Galloping COVID-19 infections cross 10,000 in Karnataka
Karnataka on Tuesday reported a record 10,453 new cases. The State also witnessed 136 fresh deaths.
As many as 6,628 persons were discharged on Tuesday taking the total number of recoveries to 4,76,378. Active cases continued to remain over lakh with 1,07,737. Of these, 815 patients are being monitored in the ICUs.
Bengaluru Urban saw a record spike with 4,868 cases, a new high, and 67 of the 136 deaths. The number of tests conducted also rose, at 87,475 in 24 hours including 45,141 rapid antigen tests. The State Government warned of stern action against people flouting mask wearing and social distancing rules.
Post-COVID-19 counselling centres to come up in Pune
Stating that the case surge across Pune division was showing signs of stabilising since the past week, divisional commissioner Saurabh Rao on Tuesday said post-COVID-19 centres would be opened to counsel discharged patients suffering from COVID-19 sequelae.
Mr. Rao said the administration in the next two-three days would be opening post-COVID-19 management counselling facilities at jumbo facilities in the city, as well as in other facilities like the Naidu hospital and the Baner mini-jumbo COVID-19 centre.
“As of now, more than 2.30 lakh patients have been discharged. Around 10-12% of them are reported to have been experiencing psychological problems, are in need of physiotherapy, or are suffering from fibrosis, neuro-muscular problems or the side effects of medicines. Hence, to look after them, we will be constituting a team of doctors to counsel them,” he said, adding that recovered patients would also be provided with a toll free number if they couldn’t make it to the centres.
Women, children and adolescents are most vulnerable, says Harsh Vardhan
The maximum impact of COVID-19 has been felt by women, children and adolescents, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Tuesday.
Participating in a programme on maternal, newborn and child health via a video link, Mr. Vardhan said his Ministry issued guidance to States to ensure that women, children and adolescents continue to get all the healthcare services, according to an official statement.
“We are in a constant dialogue to ensure that these services are made available to women, children and adolescents and remain in focus despite the health systems being under severe strain due to COVID epidemic,” he was quoted as saying in the statement.
“From instilling a behavioral change to help more women deliver in hospitals to entitlement for absolutely free services, we have come a long way now in providing quality care throughout pregnancy and childbirth with interventions like LaQshya and midwifery care,” Dr. Vardhan said.
ESIC guidelines for workplaces cites mandatory use of Aarogya Setu
Guidelines to keep workplaces safe from COVID-19 released by the Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) on Tuesday include advice to companies to make the use of the Aarogya Setu app mandatory, ban cigarette breaks, and mention repeated violations of social distancing and hygiene norms by employees in their annual appraisal.
The guidelines, in the form of booklets in English and Hindi, were released by Health and Family Welfare Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan, and Labour and Employment Minister Santosh Kumar Gangwar.
The Health Minister “urged industries and establishments to adhere to the safety guidelines issued and to make necessary modifications/changes at workplaces and process accordingly to maintain continuity in business activities with keeping workforce safe”, a Labour Ministry statement said.
Senior civic official dies of COVID-19
A pall of gloom descended on the Ripon Building, the headquarters of the Greater Chennai Corporation, on Tuesday, after a senior official fell victim to COVID-19.
S. Shankar, a Superintendent Engineer who was working in the Storm Water Drain Department, succumbed to the infection.
A senior official of the civic body said the 57-year-old Superintendent Engineer was an efficient officer, and was admitted to a private hospital more than 10 days ago. But he died on Tuesday.
Lockdown restrictions extended by a month
The Tamil Nadu government on Tuesday extended the COVID-19 lockdown across the State till October 31, but offered a few relaxations. Last month, it had extended the curbs till September 30.
In a statement, Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami said restaurants and tea shops would remain open between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. Takeaway services would be permitted till 10 p.m. Essentially, this means an extension in operational timings by an hour each for dine-in and parcel services. He also announced that shootings for cinema could be carried out with 100 persons on set, but spectators were not to be allowed.
“The State government announced major relaxations during September and, at the same time, the spread of the infection has decreased at the State level. Steps are being taken to further decrease the [case] mortality rate,” Mr. Palaniswami said.